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I _almost_ wrote off Mike Pall's arguments on the basis of tone and style 
alone. (Mike, they were so gruesomely flamesome that they almost sank your 
ship -- perhaps you can try vehemence AND respect rather than vehemence 
XOR respect next time :). Also, I have never really liked the fact that 
his library returns twos-complement-style 32-bit signed numbers in 

But if the implementors of Lua are serious about supporting Lua for 
environments in which Lua numbers aren't doubles (such as 32-bit ints) 
then Mike Pall is quite right about return values. 

There is simply no choice but to have the bitops return 32-bit signed 
numbers, or else the library can never work on 32-bit-number platforms. 

And I agree with the idea that, as a core Lua library, the bit operations 
need formally to convert (not to cast) their operands to bitmapped 
integers before carrying out any operation, in some standards-compliant 
way (read: "in a fashion which has only one possible correct result 
regardless of platform").

Also, since I expect one common usage of the bit operations to be 
crypto-related, I'd like to see standard library functions to return a 
32-bit style number as a 4-character string, in either endianness., e.g.


So, bit.tou32le(1) == '\x01\x00\x00\x00', and bit.tou32be(1) == 

To go with these functions, I also think a function (which probably 
belongs in string, not bit) to XOR two strings together would be very 
handy. It's awfully slow to do char-by-char in Lua, but trivial and quick 
in C. 

The reason for this esoteric-sounding function is that XORing strings 
together is one of the most fundamental "final steps" in a stream cipher, 
a class which includes not just dedicated stream ciphers such as ARC4, but 
also stream-base block cipher modes such as Cipher Feedback (CFB) and 
Counter (CTR) mode.

Lastly, since I hate the idea of operations which are permitted "but 
undefined" (this invariably ends up in the emergence of platform-specific 
tricks), so it might be worth having a mode for the bit library -- 
non-default, perhaps, but run-time selectable -- which would 
trigger an exception if any functions were called with numbers 
which aren't directly representable as integers, e.g. if 
x ~= math.floor(x).

Ideally, I'd like to see Lua have offical support for a range of default 
number types -- 32-bit, double, 128-bit, etc., definitely including one 
which gives sufficient integer range to be closed under 64-bit addition. 
We live in an increasingly 64-bit world. (In particular, if I add 1 to 
2^64-1 I need to know there has been an overflow, and in general I would 
like to be closed under 64-bit addition, so I can add any two 64-bit ints 
together and trust the result.)